CRN Interview: Stratoscale CEO On Extending AWS Partnership, Accelerating The Tech Road Map, And Helping Partners Win In The Cloud

Stratoscale Front And Center

Ariel Maislos, founder and CEO of hyper-converged specialist Stratoscale, has a bullish technology road map ahead with new cloud services for channel partners and partnerships with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud in the works.

"We believe we're the most innovative company in this space right now," said Maislos in an interview with CRN.

The Israel-based company, with offices in New York, Massachusetts and California, was recently named a 'Visionary' in Gartner's first Magic Quadrant for Hyper-Converged Infrastructure. Maislos talks to CRN about his company's unique partnership with Amazon Web Services, market differentiation, and how channel partners are making money with Stratoscale.

Why should partners bet on Stratoscale compared to competitors like Nutanix and Pivot3?

Because we're helping you deal with customers that are asking for cloud functionality and thinking about cloud migration. … Stratoscale created a fully managed hyper-converged platform that is looking beyond yesterday's legacy applications and looking at cloud-native applications. We've fully converged almost the entire stack over a cloud-native app into our platform. We're providing the ability to run virtualized workloads and having multiple storage functions for object storage, file storage, block storage that are all AWS-compatible. There's a built-in CLI [command-line interface] that you can manage through the AWS CLI. It's a huge step forward in how data center operations and infrastructure are behaving by making it AWS-compatible.

We're not trying to walk into a proprietary framework with new APIs or something cool that we've invented -- which is kind of thing you see from Nutanix, where they have their own proprietary platform. Instead, we're focusing on extending the AWS set of capabilities back into the enterprise.

Why partner with AWS?

AWS is the leading cloud platform on the planet. AWS is the de facto standard and it’s the best way to manage your cloud applications. Because of that, we think a lot of organizations are taking a cloud-first strategy. A lot of their innovation is in the cloud. Our thinking was, 'How do we extend that cloud paradigm back inside the enterprise?' So extending the cloud paradigm into the enterprise with a single, holistic way of doing things. You can use the AWS tools with a lot of DevOps capability, a strong set of third-party tools, etc. – then you can apply them regardless of where your applications are, whether in the public cloud or back home. We're focusing on creating that compatibility layer in a hyper-converged manner and, through that, give you a lot of freedom to operate and have choices where to run your applications while always aligning on cloud-native best practices.

Will Stratoscale extend into Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure in 2018?

Yes. Absolutely.

We're extending the capability into more and more what we call 'multi-cloud,' so Azure and Google Cloud. Our customers are looking at their enterprise infrastructure as part of a global solution and they're leaning on us to help them solve a broader problem.

What is the technology road map this year?

We're going to continue to introduce additional capabilities and additional cloud services because we've discovered that moving to the cloud and changing the way your applications are designed when you're doing things in a cloud-native manner, you really need micro-services. So we're moving to micro-services. We've added a capability to run native containers for micro-services. We're adding new database types all the time. We have integrated elastic load balancers for scale-out applications and then recently we also introduced a compatible Hadoop function for big data as well as scale-out databases, like [Apache] Casandra, that are built in to provide a full data lake capability. We're not stopping there. We have a long list of cloud-native services that we're releasing over the next couple of quarters.

What types of cloud services will you be launching?

In addition to Hadoop, you're going to see [AWS] SQS-compatible services, you're going to see application services that are [AWS] SNS-compatible, you're going to see [AWS] Lambda-ompatible serverless functions coming and a few other goodies. Really cool stuff coming down the road.

Our breadth of offerings is providing a very compact [solution] that's extremely rich and makes it very obvious that we're the leading innovator in this space.

You offer solutions alongside the likes of Dell EMC, Cisco, Lenovo and HPE. What's the strategy here?

Being a software company gives us a lot of freedom of partnering on the hardware side and being able to support our customers with their needs. We are able to deploy on x86 hardware or a customer's choice on new hardware that comes into play. We're partnering with the major server vendors to be able to provide pre-packaged solutions for customers that's completely turnkey to make their life easier.

We are very unique in our focus on extending the cloud experience on-premise and providing a very rich functionality around native cloud services that are integrated. The other vendors aren't doing that.

How are partners winning in the sales trenches, and what are you doing to enable them to make more money?

We're helping them make more money by moving away from exclusively providing commoditized hardware, but the most important one is we're helping them give an answer to the customer who wants to move to the cloud. If an enterprise customer wants to move to the cloud, and you're coming in and talking about new storage technology – you have no chance of doing business with that customer. Because the customer's motivation is elsewhere because their needs are around application agility and rearchitecting into a cloud-native stack. We give our partners the ability to have that conversation. You cannot fight the cloud. Everybody is enjoying the huge benefits of the cloud. What you want to do is be part of the solution and be able to provide value to your customers as they're transitioning to the cloud.

How does your platform provide value for partners?

We're giving partners a platform that helps them bridge [to the cloud] by giving them the capabilities to run their cloud-native applications in the cloud or back home, which is providing value to them. That's the most significant aspect that we bring into play for partners. Look, if somebody is moving to Amazon and you have a new blade system in the server, do they care? If you have a new chipset, do they care? They don't. They want to move to a different place. The customer is going to talk to you about data lakes, about IoT, big data, application components and micro-services – that is where we're helping our partners create value.

What message do you want to get out to the channel?

We're giving you a recurring revenue stream and attached hardware that you can sell. On a strategic level, we're keeping you relevant as your customers are transitioning to the cloud. If your traditional customer was an IT buyer, now more and more of the decisions are at the line of business, the DevOps teams --- we're helping you with that audience. … We're rolling out into larger and larger deployments. We're very excited to work with Fortune 500 customers as they're transforming their application architectures into cloud-native applications, and data center infrastructure into a fully hyper-converged on-premise cloud.